Thank you Mr President.
I have the honour today to speak on behalf Australia, Solomon Islands and my own country, New Zealand.
We support many of the comments made by others today. So apart from expressing our general support to Under Secretary General Michelle Bachelet and her staff for their hard work and impressive achievements over the past 26 months, we will focus our comments on the regional architecture particularly as it relates to our own neighbourhood – the Pacific region.
In this region, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women has played a key role in supporting both governments and women's organisations.
We are happy with the approach taken in the regional architecture report, and only have three points we want to make as it relates to the Pacific, and the multi-country office in Suva.
Before we do so, however, we’d like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for Ms Bachelet’s participation at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting on Rarotonga in August, and her visit to the Pacific. This has left a positive and lasting impression.
First, in regards to the regional architecture, we want to stress that for many countries in the Pacific, regional organisations and regional coordination are of great importance, so the review of the regional architecture has special relevance for us.
Strengthening UN Women's presence at the country level is important, but just as important is UN Women’s prominent voice on gender equality and women's empowerment in its engagement with regional organisations. We welcome the assurances that this vision is shared by UN-Women.
Regional policy dialogue and advocacy by UN-Women is highly valued by the countries across the region. For example, the UN-Women's Suva Office works with regional groups such as the PIFS Reference Group on Sexual and Gender Based Violence, of which UN-Women is a member. It also engages in key regional meetings such as the Pacific Women's Ministers Meeting.
Although there are some important elements related to this role of UN-Women that are not evident in the report, we are encouraged by assurances during the preparatory briefings that the Pacific region, through the Suva multi-country office, will see a strengthened presence in regional dialogues as a result of the Regional Architecture Review; and that the resource implications to support a stronger role for UN-Women in this regard have been taken into account.
Australia, Solomon Islands and New Zealand are also heartened by UN-Women’s reassurance that it plans to build on its assets in the region, particularly in the areas of political participation; economic empowerment; and disaster risk reduction. We also hope that UN-Women will continue to focus on ending violence against women and girls in the Pacific.
We look forward to the functional analysis that will be coming out soon.
Secondly, we commend the shift to greater authority and delegation for decision-making in the field. We see this decentralised authority as essential for the regional, multi-country and country offices to run smoothly and efficiently. Delegated authority has the potential to support tailored programming approaches to the particular opportunities and challenges at the regional and country levels.
Thirdly, we welcome the efforts of UN-Women to establish and resource the Civil Society Advisory Group compromising thematic gender experts to guide the implementation of the UN-Women Strategic Plan in the region.
We would like to add that we also see all these improvements as strengthening UN-Women’s engagement in the important UN-wide initiatives such as Delivering as One, and partnerships across a range of sectors, including with the private sector.
This is a significant and valued role within the Pacific region and we are encouraged by the message from UN-Women that this will be strengthened and properly resourced as the regional architecture is implemented.
Australia, Solomon Islands and New Zealand, through the Executive Board and in the field, very much look forward to working with UN-Women to strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific region.